Burlington Central routs Wheaton North to reach MLK title game

By Jake Bartelson
Shaw Media
Updated 1/15/2022 7:46 PM

Wheaton North crashed in on Carson Seyller trying to trap him on his first pass.

Sellyer, Burlington Central's senior, calmly dribbled out of the jam and found Gavin Sarvis flying from left to right along the baseline.


Sarvis, from there, did what he perhaps does best. He finished at the rim for a thunderous fourth quarter alley-oop slam to put a capper on the Rockets' 58-38 victory over Wheaton North on Saturday at Burlington Central's MLK Tournament.

"On that oop, we got a good play call from coach [Brett Porto]," said another of Burlington Central's senior starters, Zac Schmidt, who had 11 points and six rebounds. "Executed it really well."

On the ensuing possession up the court, Schmidt let a smile show. Seyller and Nick Carpenter followed that up with layups of their own for the quick 6-0 run to make it a 22-point game.

The Rockets, for all intents and purposes, commanded the game from opening tip. Burlington Central harassed Wheaton North for 14 turnovers with the regular rotation in play until the final 6:11, when Porto emptied the bench.

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Burlington Central will face Lyons Township at noon on Monday for the Burlington Central MLK Day tournament championship. Wheaton North faces DeKalb for third.

"We've just been working as a team and we've been keep getting better," Sarvis said. "We can have fun out there instead of always being behind on teams."

Even with a vast lead, the Rockets continuously contested passing lanes, forced turnovers in traffic and played the suffocating style of defense Porto has instilled in them for the last number of seasons.

The Rockets' (17-2) will to win, evidently, can't be turned off. They've won 12 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 15.

"[Porto] always says: 'Up 20 or down 20, play with the same energy," Schmidt said. "That's what we're doing out here and the past few games, we actually haven't been doing that that well. So, starting last night, we started to do a lot of it. Today, for sure we were doing that."


Wheaton North (4-11) was playing its second game of the day, after earlier defeating Woodstock North 65-46.

"Obviously, [we were] a little bit overmatched against [Central]," Falcons coach Dave Brackmann said. "Our goal was in the first four minutes to be right there in the fight. We didn't have a great first quarter, but we actually got into the fight in the second quarter. Then, things kind of spiraled there to close the second. Credit to them: they've got size [and] shooting."

Wheaton North was paced by Rex Kroger, Jack Spears and Trey Bruni with six points each. Noah Froebe and Eamon Kane each had five points. Kane led with seven rebounds.

"I'm proud of our guys. That was our second game of the day; that was their first game of the day," Brackmann said. "We knew that was going to be a tall task. Our guys have nothing to hang their heads about. We came out of here 1-1 today. Battled as well as they could have that game."

Lyons 65, DeKalb 64:

It wasn't always working, but when Lyons Township needed senior guard Tavari Johnson's scoring the most, they got it.

Johnson scored 20 points, including the game-winning shot in the final minute of overtime, to help the Lyons Township boys' basketball team overcome a challenge from the DeKalb Barbs 65-64 Saturday in the Burlington Central MLK tournament.

Johnson, a University of Akron commit, wasn't hitting shots early until he turned his attention to containing DeKalb junior guard Darrell Island.

"Late, I really thought they were going to pull it out, but we got a second chance in overtime," Johnson said. "I really tried to focus on defense. I was focused on stopping their point guard because he's a great scorer. Doing that helped me on the offensive side as well."

Island had the final shot of the game for the Barbs at the end of overtime, but the floater didn't fall. Island finished with 14 points while senior forward Demarrea Davis had a game-high 21 points for DeKalb.

DeKalb head coach Mike Reynolds said he knew facing the Lions without senior guard Lane Mcvicar would be an uphill battle, but the energy he saw in their Thursday victory over Marian Central carried them into Saturday.

"Obviously we're down a player and that's a big part of it," Reynolds said. "We knew we were the underdogs coming in and we fought like crazy on Thursday. We brought that same energy today and we were in it the entire game. … We had a shot to win in overtime, but it went in and out. This is good steps forward for us because we know that's one of the best teams in the Chicagoland area and we went toe-to-toe with them."

Lyons Township head coach Tom Sloan said his team was tested by playing a physical Barbs team.

"DeKalb is really good," Sloan said. "They execute really well offensively, really crash the offensive glass and defend hard. It was pretty much a back-alley street fight from the opening tip to the buzzer. Quite a test for us, an extra physical test after playing a game this morning. … Our kids found a way to win the game. It wasn't perfect or pretty, but we found a way."

The Lions led after the first quarter and forced a DeKalb timeout in the second quarter after Barbs turnovers made it 21-15 with 5:47 left in the first half. The Barbs fought back to take the lead with 1:30 left in the half with a three-pointer by freshman guard Sean Reynolds to make it 29-26 DeKalb at halftime.

DeKalb dictated the pace early in the third quarter, but turnovers and fast-break baskets by the Lions helped close the gap again. Lyons Township junior guard Jackson Niego had six points off the bench in the third, including a game-tying layup in the final minute of the third to make it 44-44.

The two squads traded baskets down the stretch of regulation. With the game tied at 57-57, a desperation three from Lions senior guard Aidan Sullivan fell short of the rim to force overtime.

DeKalb took a three-point lead with 56 seconds left in overtime with a basket-and-one from Davis. Johnson of the Lions scored at the other end to make it a one-point game before DeKalb committed a backcourt violation with just under 30 seconds remaining.

Johnson made a floater for the Lions to go up and then helped defend a final shot by Island at the other end to secure the win.

Lyons plays in the MLK tournament final at noon Monday at Burlington Central. DeKalb will play in the third-place game at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

-- James Krause

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